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Ireland's 15 year olds among best in reading literacy

Posted by Schooldays Newshound, on 03/12/2019. Ireland's 15 year olds among best in reading literacyTags: Education And Politics Parenting Teachers

The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD today (Tuesday 3 December 2019) welcomed the 2018 OECD PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results which show Ireland’s 15 year-olds are among the best in -reading literacy and are performing significantly higher than the OECD average in mathematics and science.

PISA takes place every three years and aims to measure how well 15 year-old students are performing in three areas – reading, mathematics and science.

The key findings of the 2018 assessments include

  • Ireland ranks 4th out of 36 OECD countries and 3rd out of 27 EU countries for reading literacy.
  • Ireland ranks 8th out of 77 countries/regions involved in PISA 2018 for reading literacy.[1]
  • In reading, Ireland has significantly fewer low-performing students (11.8% below level 2) and significantly more high performers (12.1% at levels 5 & 6) than the OECD average.
  • PISA results show the difference in performance between schools in Ireland is lower than the OECD average.
  • In Ireland, the difference between schools in student performance in reading literacy is less than half of what it is, on average, across OECD countries.[2]
  • Post-primary schools in Ireland can therefore be considered relatively equitable, as well as having above average performance in the three assessment domains.
    Minister McHugh said: “Our focus on creating an equitable education system is working. It is particularly heartening to see how the variation between schools is significantly lower than other countries in these PISA results.

    “A large part of that success is down to the focus of Government on the Deis programme.
    “Irish students have extremely high standards when it comes to reading, among the best there is. The number of low achieving students is among the lowest in the 77 countries tested.
    “It is an envious position to be in and credit must go to the education initiatives being promoted by the Department like the National Strategy on Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life (2011-2020) and how these are adopted by our schools, thanks to the dedication of our teachers.

    “Overall in maths and science results are relatively stable and our students are performing at an above average level, yet we can improve further. I am confident that the changes which the Junior Cycle is bringing will help the development of our students’ critical thinking. It is no longer just about the facts and knowledge that we teach our young people but helping them see how they can put that into use.

    “The Government is committed to promoting the uptake of STEM in post-primary and a key focus is increasing participation of young women. We will be taking account of the PISA results in considering actions in the next STEM Implementation Plan from 2020.
    “And as part of our work to provide more technology in schools, since 2017, the Government has invested €110 million in ICT in the classroom. That will continue with another €100 million under the Project Ireland 2040 Digital Strategy in Schools and it will ensure students will become more and more adept at using technologies for education.”
    PISA 2018 is a computer-based testing format. About half of the 5,000 plus Irish students who sat the tests had previous experience in this type of testing.
    Computer-based testing was first introduced in PISA 2015. This allowed PISA to test students’ ability to apply scientific investigative skills in virtual experiments. In 2018, the proportion of such items was increased, reflecting a growing emphasis on measuring students’ ability to apply scientific skills, rather than their knowledge of scientific facts.
    Only 2% of the Irish students taking the PISA 2018 test had experienced the new science curriculum. The 2021 round of PISA will provide a better estimation of the extent to which the Junior Cycle changes in science are effective.
    Other findings from PISA 2018
  • Ireland has a lower percentage of low-performing students in all three domains than on average across OECD countries.
  • Girls perform better than boys in reading, with a difference of 23.2 score points.[3]
  • Ireland’s performance in science and mathematics has remained relatively stable –
    above the OECD average scores – between 2015 and 2018 cycles.
  • Girls perform slightly better than boys in science but the results are not considered statistically significant.
  • In science, students ranked 17th out of 37 OECD countries, 11th out of 28 EU countries and 22nd out of 78 participating countries/regions.
  • Ireland has a lower than average number of low performing students in science.
  • In mathematics, Irish students ranked 16th out of 37 OECD countries and 21st out of 78 participating countries/regions.
    -          Ireland has a lower than average number of low performing students in maths.
    Further information:
    The national report on PISA 2018 in Ireland can be accessed at
    International reports on PISA 2018 can be accessed at


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